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'SNL' earns mixed reviews for season premiere

By Todd Leopold, CNN
updated 10:31 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
  • New season of "Saturday Night Live" premieres to mixed reviews
  • EW says show's growing pains continue
  • Slate said it was "consistently funny"
  • The standout performer was new player Pete Davidson

(CNN) -- Season 40 of "Saturday Night Live" kicked off over the weekend with much the same assessment as previous seasons: talent that needs seasoning, up-and-down sketches and mixed reviews.

"Are 'SNL's' growing pains over as it enters its 40th season? It certainly didn't seem that way from the show's bizarre season opener," wrote EW's Esther Zuckerman.

On the other hand, Slate's Sharan Shetty praised the opener as "one of the better, more consistently funny episodes in a good while."

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Certainly, uneven "SNLs" are nothing new. But the new season, with a combination of winning host Chris Pratt and some fresh faces, seemed to draw particularly diverse critiques.

The best reviews were for a taped bit on future Marvel projects -- including films based around shopping carts and someone named Pam -- that, the studio promised, will make a mint.

"Who's Pam? Doesn't matter. 'Pam' will make $3 billion," the voiceover said.

"Pratt's starring role in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' served as the inspiration for the night's best taped bit," wrote The Hollywood Reporter's Ken Tucker.

On the other hand, new Weekend Update anchor Michael Che was "hobbled" by "lame jokes," Tucker said, not to mention his own nervousness.

"His appearance was a bit rocky: he flubbed a few lines and took a while to get into a rhythm with Colin Jost," Shetty wrote.

If anyone came out well, it was new player Pete Davidson, who earned plaudits all over the place.

"Davidson ... was the revelation of the episode," Shetty wrote.

And Twitter definitely smiled on the 20-year-old.

"This Kid Is A Star #SNL," tweeted Questlove.

"SNL's new featured player @petedavidson stole the whole show tonight during Weekend Update!" JustJared added.

"SNL's" 40th season continues next week with Sarah Silverman hosting.